BERT MAES

The Future of CNC Manufacturing Education – CNC Manufacturing, Education Reform & Change Management News.

Archive for the ‘Policy’ Category

German manufacturers recruit professionals from Spain and Bulgaria

Posted by Bert Maes on July 25, 2011


Like This!

The German manufacturers lack skilled workers. So they are urgently looking for young engineers and experts in crisis-torn Spain. Initial negotiations are successful.

But kids in technical education have to know foreign languages!

High unemployment in Spain encouraged workers to emigrate

In Baden-Wuerttemberg alone, several thousand posts are vacant. We are now looking to the neighboring EU countries to acquire staff. The time seems favorable, because Spain experiences a very high level of unemployment, especially among young people. In Spain, many young engineers are unemployed,” said Dr. Beate Raabe of the Central Placement and Placement Services of the Employment Agency.

Since the beginning, the authorities have encouraged recruitment on the Iberian Peninsula. This pleases Ulrich P. Hermani, Managing Director of VDMA Baden-Wuerttemberg. “We strongly support the initiative and pushed to have this,” says Schwabe, who has personally appealed to the Regional Directorate of the Agency’s work.

Its member companies are hoping for well-trained professionals from the Spanish automotive industry. The mechanical and technical ability of the Spaniards are more than ever in demand between Friedrichshafen and Mannheim. And the Iberians seem ready for Teutonic challenges.

Wittenstein has already placed job advertisements in Spain

Wittenstein AG doesn’t have Spaniards yet, but they have placed job offers on site. Important for the company is that they know spoken and written German. German courses are available for Spanish experts.

The departure of the sun, paella and bullfighting is sweetened by a safe workplace and a long-term perspective, according to VDMA. “It is known throughout Europe, that Germany has come well out of the crisis and is looking for professionals,” the employment agency writes.

But Hermani, Association Manager, doesn’t expect a big rush. “We must not give ourselves the illusion that this will solve the skills shortage. There is not enough influx from abroad, and I mean all foreign countries,” Dr. Hannes Hesse adds, Executive Director of the VDMA, Frankfurt. He is counting on the students. “We think especially the foreign students are perfect immigrants. After the end of their studies, they should remain in Germany”.

Bulgaria also interesting for professionals recruitment

Nevertheless: his colleague Hermani looks to Eastern Europe and especially to Bulgaria, having a long tradition of mechanical engineering. In neighboring Hungary, many experts acknowledge, no specialists are available. A scenario for Spain? “With the recruitment of unemployed candidates, we relieve the Spanish labor market locally,” says Raabe of the employment agency.

But is it morally legitimate and economically sensible to make use of an ailing partner country and its expertise, and in retrospect support him with millions of euros, economists ask themselves.

Who is helping the Spaniards, to take advantage of economic misery in the absence of young professionals?

Source: MaschinenMarkt – Robert Weber

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Advertisements

Posted in Policy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Truth about…Youth

Posted by Bert Maes on June 14, 2011


Like This!

What motivates young people around the world today? Money? Fame? Justice?

McCann Worldgroup asked that question to 7000 young people around the world: US, UK, China, India, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, Chile, South Africa, Italy, Germany, Korea, Japan, Australia and Philippines.

 The same three motivations are ranked highly in every country.

 

And it is technology – most often their phone and laptop – which fuels the three motivations above. It is the deep relationship with technology that allows them to connect and to influence justice for a new era.

  • The need for connection and community is the most fundamental motivation for young people. They want to connect, share and broadcast through digital cameras, cheap editing software, design programs and blogging platforms.
  • For this reason: to be remembered, not for their beauty, their power or their influence, but simply by the quality of their human relationships and being loved by many people.
  • Connecting to a broader network of friends has replaced the need to belong to a tight-knit group of friends.
  • They long for new tools to broadcast, share, entertain, make new connections, beat their friends, and narrate their lives.
  • They avoid all impositions, rigid rules and structures where they can’t negotiate.
  • But these tools should come from people that really care. Youth is disgusted by corporate people doing good just to make themselves look good. From a young person’s point of view, the worst thing a brand can do us make a promise it doesn’t keep.
  • Young people want to change the world. Social media allows them to share information, to join groups on a wide range of topics (everything from corruption in politics to freedom of speech or human rights abuses) and to build networks of support and encouragement.
  • They believe technology brands like Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook will solve most of the problems the word faces today, from environmental issues to food shortages, from freedom of speech to privacy and terrorism.

I am wondering how these technology brands will save the world.
Have you got insights for me?

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions, Statistics, Value of CNC | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

31 parameters which shape a healthy environment for manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on May 26, 2011


Like This!

The ERA Foundation established a list of parameters which are considered to be influential in shaping a healthy environment for manufacturing.

The list is not necessarily exhaustive; nonetheless, to test the parameters and provide some initial prioritization, it was circulated as a simple questionnaire to one hundred knowledgeable industrialists and policy makers who were invited to add further parameters if these were felt to be important.

Thirty-six responses were received and a final list of 31 parameters compiled; these are organized in the priority order shown below.

A long-term high-level Government commitment to manufacturing.
A competitive exchange rate.
Low interest rates.
Lower corporation tax.
Capital depreciation tax relief.
Taxation of dividends.
Capital gains tax on companies (cf. property etc).
R&D tax credits.
Direct government grants.
De-regulation/ Better regulation.
Intellectual Property protection.
Skills – professional.
Skills – technical.
Energy costs.
Accommodation costs (including business rates).
Capital controls – including FDI.
Competition policy – mergers and acquisitions.
Foreign takeovers of companies.
Role of Regional Development Agencies.
Labour costs.
Flexible labour laws.
Bank for Industry.
Infrastructure – transport, communications, broadband.
Government procurement.
Tax incentives for investment.
Business start-up support.
Venture capital funding and tax incentives.
Science research base.
Academic-industrial collaboration.
Encouraging the young to consider working in industry.
Culture – recognizing and broadcasting the critical contribution of manufacturing to the future of the country.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions, Statistics | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Manufacturing Should Be Called: The Art of Import Replacement (and The Art of Saving Our Economy)

Posted by Bert Maes on May 3, 2011


Like This!

Jane Jacobs

So many times people are asking me: “We are living in a service-based economy. Manufacturing is not viable anymore. So what the **** are you doing there?

Well, my answer typically is:

Yes, we are living in a service-based economy: in high-income countries 75%-87% of the economic growth is generated by services. 13%-25% comes from goods-producing industries.

But the problem is: this is not creating wealth — it actually fuels our national debts.

We cannot live from services alone. Poor regions and nations typically import more than they can afford OR they fail to produce a wide, diverse, creative range of physical products and export them. Economic success is simply the result of a process of constant, new & differentiated exports.

What we should be doing is follow a very old concept invented by Jane Jacobs: the import-replacement theory. That would make us earn money… Today, we stay behind with importing stuff, losing money, governments that have to loan, and in the end can’t pay for the interest anymore, bringing us close to bankruptcy.

Also the banks still haven’t learned anything: they still have the luxury to play around with other people’s money. When they screw up, and lose millions, they don’t care. The government doesn’t mind. A manufacturing business instead gets the raw material in, and makes a finished product. “When you screw up, you pay from your own pocket,” says Franc CoenenThe economy is at risk when you count on companies that just sell ‘air’ and don’t add value.

An economy based more on making things and less on debt-fueling services would help to avoid domestic financial bubbles and add balance to the global economy,” Tom Saler adds. Only by restoring manufacturing can historic trade imbalances and high unemployment levels be expeditiously reduced and economic growth expanded to generate sufficient tax revenues to help ultimately balance the budget deficit.”

Is there a reason why we cannot be the best in the art of ‘import-replacing’ again?

The Chinese are not the problem. Jobs and industry always move to the cheapest and easiest manufacturing market.

In the 60s and 70s it was Japan, then South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong took the manufacturing lead in producing ‘junk’ products in large quantities. Those countries got better in higher quality products, the people grew richer, workers demanded higher wages and benefits and the local standards of living were raised, resulting in higher costs of production.

Now India and China are the biggest and best at this game. “But recently rising labor costs have pushed some Chinese manufacturing to places like Vietnam,” Tom Saler reports.

In her 2004 book Dark Age Ahead Jane Jacobs argued that our civilization shows signs of spiral of decline comparable to the collapse of the Roman empire. We depend on 5 pillars to stand firm, she says: family and community, education, science, representational government and taxes, and corporate and professional accountability.

So to be the industrial and innovative leader, we have to pay the costs of new technologies and the corresponding training. Being more innovative means having better people. The source of better skills and better productivity is better education and better training in science.

Our greatest resources for innovation are many young, independent, highly-skilled hands-on thinkers and creators. We can’t grow our economy if we can’t attract younger generations to our industry and if we keep forcing many of our schools to close their metal shops.

Key is the investment and involvement of companies into local technical schools. We must help our young people get interested in ‘making things’, in becoming leaders in manufacturing, in saving our economy.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions, Statistics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

[VIDEO] Craig Barrett: “To be able to go forward, you need knowledge of Engineering”

Posted by Bert Maes on April 21, 2011


Like This!

If you have a few minutes of time, please listen to Craig R. Barrett, former CEO of Intel Corporation about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) – or read his main thoughts below:

  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is the foundation of what the 21st century has to hold in terms of economic development. It is the foundation of the future.
  • Every industry you can think about that is really key for the 21st century is founded in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are required to go forward. The economy’s future is very dependent on the quality of the workforce. They are the ones that add more value. To be able to innovate, to be able to add value, to be able to do something new, you need the best educated workforce WITH knowledge Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
  • The most common educational background of the Fortune 500 CEOs today is in fact engineering education. It shows that problem solving and math is driving business going forward.
  • The only way to go forward is improving STEM education. That is not only the role of government or a school district. The private sector needs to get involved and rally together with financial support, advocacy support and program support.

Craig R. Barrett hits the nail on the head, isn’t it?

Have a look what Haas Automation is doing in the field of CNC Manufacturing with the Haas Technical Education Center program: http://haascnc.com/htec/ebook/ It brings Craig Barrett’s vision into practice.


Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

This is manufacturing’s moment – It is the moment to engage schools

Posted by Bert Maes on March 17, 2011


Like This!

At the March Leadership Summit from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), Emily DeRocco, president of The Manufacturing Institute  and the new National Center for the American Workforce was pretty straightforward with a message we advocate since a decade:

She said that manufacturing simply can’t wait for the educational system to reform itself. It must take the lead and press for expansion of industry-education partnerships to infuse technology into school curricula, apply manufacturing principles in educational institutions and produce industry-based skills certifications.

Otherwise the lack of people coming through the school system with employable skills will continue to hamper the nation’s manufacturing’s competitiveness on the global stage.

She is confident about our ability to correct the problems and move forward to reclaim a leadership role in the world, but stated that it would take active participation by the manufacturing industry for this to happen.

On the other hand, DeRocco said in an earlier speech:

Manufacturers cannot do efforts in innovation and the workforce by themselves. Educational institutions at all levels must partner with the industry if we are going to produce both the technical and engineering talent that our sector demands and accelerate our innovation capacity. But we must be the ones to take the first step and now is the time. This is manufacturing’s moment. It is the moment to engage high schools, colleges, and universities as they are under pressure to reform. It is the moment to reach out to young people and offer them a job, a career, and future they can be proud of.

What is your opinion?

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Where is the well oiled education system?

Posted by Bert Maes on March 1, 2011


Like This!

Manufacturing strengthens the financing balance of a country. The countries that have a strong manufacturing base have a healthier financial situation. Loss of manufacturing contributes to debts and impoverishment. Manufacturing clearly is a must to keep the rest of the economy going. Over time, leadership in manufacturing determines the economic winners and losers.

But manufacturing, invention and innovation depend for a very large part on the highly skilled employees. The most important thing to grow the industry is the quality and availability of the labor force.

We fail to motivate young people to work in manufacturing.

We’ve got an entire generation of kids who are ready to make their mark in the world, and we’ve got them sitting at desks in schools and in cubicles in companies. Many young people do not desire to sit in a cubicle. They want to have their brain fully engaged in a safe, clean environment.

A good example of a manufacturing company that understood this is Sewtec Automation. The enterprise has 9 multi-skilled programmers working directly on the shop floor using the machines directly.  They all feel actively involved in producing the final product. Young people brought the computer skills that are essential to the modern factory. They made it possible with the performance of 5 new Haas CNC machine tools to increase the productive hours by 850%. “We’ve made Sewtec an attractive place to work.

This type of company and this type of work, Mike Boyer writes, “requires a work force with above average mental strength -“IQ”- and a well oiled education system”.

And then technical vocational and trade courses are being reduced to deal with the budget battles.

How do the youth get trained for the jobs that exist today and will grow tomorrow when our aging workforce retires?Bob Trojan says. “Someone, somehow, somewhere, has to train our future manufacturing workforce.” Someone has to invest in technical schools to enhance resources and infrastructure. How do we otherwise put young creative hands-on people in position to work in a leading edge company?

To ensure future prosperity it is best to invest in those future earners.

With the Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) program CNC machine tool builder Haas Automation is offering professional support to create motivating and inspiring learning environments with better CNC machining equipment, a facility infrastructure improvement concept and support in international relations.

We cannot save the world. But we can support with the technology part. For sure that is good for industry and for schools. And we just see it motivates students. Just that aspect is a great support for teachers. Educators need every bit of support possible!

Isn’t that so?

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Longer-term View on Manufacturing

Posted by Bert Maes on February 17, 2011


Like This!

Plenty of people are applying for jobs. But the unemployed don’t seem to have the skills needed for the world’s current and future challenges. And then I am talking about manufacturing – what else? 🙂

Manufacturers are increasingly automating their plants and laying off the low-skilled workers. Despite the growing amount of machines and robots, more people will be needed that have the ability to ensure production runs continuously and to solve issues – without down time.

Manufacturers are willing to hire again since the beginning of the year, due to good economic results. They specifically look to hire people who understand sophisticated computerized machinery in more than one process and people who are capable of resolving complex production issues, providing preventive maintenance, making routine repairs, and recognizing process improvement opportunities.

So the need for workers that can apply advanced problem solving and analytical thinking skills increases.

Those skills seem to be the main reason why companies offshore: the average cost savings achieved by offshoring declines, the potential for cost reduction alone is no longer enough to justify moving operations. But companies are still doing so -a Duke study says- “because of a domestic shortage of skilled workers, not a desire to save on labor costs”.

This indicates we are not making much progress in training high-skilled workers. In fact, investment in the training of the new workers has gone down over the last 25 years, Mike Collins says. Which means: manufacturers take less preventative maintenance actions and experience more emergency breakdowns.

What is needed is advanced training programs,” Mike Collins concludes. So why don’t we start with this: let us make it easier for teachers and schools to be successful: better tools make better schools. Every manufacturing company can contribute to that. Partnering with schools is one of the best investments in your long-term future.

“Long term” probably means at least seven to ten years. Did you know that Asians typically think in terms of at least 10 to 15 years? In the U.S. and Europe, nearsightedness is the norm. And then we are worried about our future economic vitality.

Dominic Barton believes that having a long-term perspective is the competitive advantage of many Asian economies and businesses today. Consider the long journey of Toyota to become global leader or Hyundai which experienced quality problems in the late ‘90s but made quadruple sales in 3 years by reengineering its cars with a 10-year car warranty.

It is long-term value that needs to be maximalized. Manufacturers must have a perspective that serves the interests of the community. Communities more and more expects that local companies engage themselves. Customers plan to purchase more from socially responsible companies in the future. Just like investments in the environment, corporate investments in local schools build, maintain and improve corporate reputation and trustworthiness .

Better tools make better schools. Better schools make better tools for your future.


Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Ideal Teacher and the Real Manufacturing Opportunities

Posted by Bert Maes on February 4, 2011


Like This!

Just yesterday I have been in France at what is called the WorldSkills France competition finals (Olympiades des Métiers), a big feast honoring young skilled craftsmen in industrial trades, including the trade of advanced manufacturing machining.

The hundreds of young students I have seen competing there were working so hard, so motivated, so energized and they were so proud of what they were creating. We actually made a video on the event that I will post later on when editing is done.

I was especially honored to also meet a machining teacher with 20 years of turning and milling practice and 24 years of teaching experience. For me he seems to be the ideal CNC teacher:

  • He doesn’t have a binder under his arm: he detests the teachers that focus all resources into book theory and do not offer a real hands-on degree.
  • He takes the time and has the kindness and patience to teach the practical basics in blueprint reading, engineering, design, metallurgy, materials, speeds and feeds, cutting tools, programming, math, safety, and communication. His students receive the breadth training that is required to sculpt a well-rounded, versatile machining specialist… far more than a button pusher, parts changer or a trained monkey at a CNC machine.
  • He battles constantly to always have access to the latest machining equipment. The world is changing at a dramatic pace and today’s young people are used to constant change and challenges. In order to attract them, the machining school department must continually develop to offer the tools and practices that show a future.
  • He lets students develop their own metal artwork for their final exams. He requires his students to be creative and to make anything they want to. Together they develop great projects. They never experience boredom.
  • He takes them outside the school to see metal pieces perform in the real world: planes, cars, medical devices, musical instruments, jewelery, all kinds of sports, and so on. That builds self-confidence and passion.

This guy makes schooling and the trade very interesting. Then, there is no end to the students’ engagement. He plants seeds for cultivating those young people to advance in the machining trade. His students even cried when he announced to leave his previous school. This teacher makes advanced machining manufacturing a fascinating career choice. All of his students were hired quickly.

This story is only successful because of the hard work of this teacher, school management, parents, and students. I hear many people say that young people do not want to work hard in school anymore: they take the route of least resistance; they want to make money with limited effort in no time. In this age obtaining information, communication, merchandise, food and practically anything is effortless at the touch of a button. So it should be the same for money, they think.

True, probably money can be made much faster by not pursuing a manufacturing career. But… who are the heroes of our economy? The talented, rough and intelligent individuals that start a manufacturing business in their garage and turn out amazing products. Computerized equipment, CNC machines, CAD/CAM, lean processes and the internet have greatly enhanced manufacturing job satisfaction, while reaching an audience they never could have 10 or 15 years ago.

An inspiring example is the story of Mike who started his own manufacturing company at the age of 15.

The opportunities to work, make money and grow in the metal manufacturing field are real.

  • Metals were one of the few durable goods where manufacturing increased in 2010. Employment in fabricated metal products manufacturing increased by 4.6%.

But those manufacturing companies have difficulties in recruiting the talented young machining experts having the right skills for their high-level job openings. All over France, school machining departments are being closed as they don’t get sufficient enrollment.

Considering that millions of people are actively seeking work and still cannot obtain employment and considering that in twenty years 90% of the current machinists are retiring, it is now more important than ever to do start better teaching with better equipment and better marketing for CNC manufacturing!

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions, Statistics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Some publicity for my own projects: Haas Continues To Support Schools for a New Generation of Young CNC Top Talent

Posted by Bert Maes on November 12, 2010


Like This!

European Commission Endorses First European HTEC Student Exchange

The groundbreaking Haas Technical Education Centre (HTEC) CNC training programme recently received a resounding endorsement from the European Commission, which has agreed to sponsor and support the first international HTEC student exchange, in Spring 2011.

Between March 27th and April 9th, ten students and two teachers from the Belgian HTEC VTI St-Lucas Oudenaarde will travel to Sweden where they will work and study at host facility HTEC-Bäckadalsgymnasiet, in Jönköping. This exciting exchange is being staged and managed by Haas Automation Europe and five partner organisations, including the 2 HTECs, the Swedish Haas Factory Outlet (a division of Edströms) and two Swedish manufacturing companies, Linto and Fagerhult.

This is a very exciting development for the two pioneer schools and its students,” says Haas Europe HTEC coordinator, Mr. Bert Maes. “The HTEC network is the ideal platform for connecting schools, CNC teachers and students at an international level. Any school that commits to the HTEC program can benefit from international exchanges, and with the backing of the European Commission, HTEC students have wonderful opportunities to travel and learn.

This exchange program will allow teachers from the Belgian HTEC to cooperate with their Swedish colleagues and exchange ideas and best-practice for training young people as CNC machine tool specialists. At the state-of-the-art Swedish HTEC, the Belgian students will be further familiarised with the latest Haas CNC machine tools, as well as with new techniques in CAD/CAM, automatic welding, industrial design, 3D scanning and vacuum modeling.

The Swedish companies Linto and Fagerhult have agreed to mentor students during the ten days, with each student spending five days at each company. During their time at tool manufacturer Linto, the students will experience how the company’s 14 Haas CNC machines are employed and optimised in a demanding production environment. At Fagerhult, the students will study the manufacture of lighting systems, from raw material through to finished product, with a special focus on energy saving solutions and techniques.

Mr. Maes concludes: “From its investigation, the European Commission has ascertained that this HTEC student exchange is significant for European industry. The students will not only be exposed to innovative technologies, but they will also practice their skills in problem solving and working in teams, as well as learning how to adapt to different work cultures. We believe that companies who eventually hire these young specialists will benefit tremendously from their experience and international outlook.

HTEC – The Concept

The HTEC initiative is a partnership between European educational establishments, Haas Automation Europe (HAE), its distributor-owned HFOs (Haas Factory Outlets) and an alliance of industry leading, CNC technology partners. HAE launched the HTEC programme in 2007 to counter what it regards as one of the greatest threats to the continent’s sustainable economic development: Namely, a shortage of talented and motivated young people entering the precision engineering industry with CNC machining skills.

The programme provides Haas CNC machine tools to educational establishments in Europe, so enabling HTEC students to become familiar with the latest CNC machining technology. This hands-on experience ensures students graduate with transferable skills and better employment opportunities. Haas Technical Education Centres also benefit local and national engineering companies by increasing the supply of well-educated apprentices.

Since launch, the HTEC initiative has expanded rapidly across Europe. Governments – from Sweden to Romania and from Portugal to Russia – have enthusiastically backed the programme and recognise the need to build a stronger manufacturing infrastructure.

The HTEC Industry Partners are some of the best-known names in precision manufacturing technologies and have demonstrated a strong, ongoing commitment to the HTEC objectives, backing them with the investment of time and resources. Currently, the HTEC Industry Partner network comprises KELLER, MasterCam, Esprit, Renishaw, Sandvik Coromant, Schunk, Blaser, Urma, Chick, Air Turbine Technology, Hainbuch, and CIMCOOL.

http://www.HTECnetwork.eu

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Stop talking about “STEM” education! “TEAMS” is way cooler!

Posted by Bert Maes on October 21, 2010


Like This!

The term STEM education (for science, technology, engineering and mathematics) was coined by Dr. Judith Ramaley when she was assistant director at the National Science Foundation from 2001 to 2004. Ramaley’s concept of STEM situates learning in the context of solving real world problems or creating new opportunities—pursuit of innovation. Spurred by a public and private sector push for global competitiveness, STEM has become a lightning rod for education in 2010.

But it is pretty clear that many kids don’t get inspired by what happens with STEM in schools. How many times did you already hear lamentations like: “I am terrified of math. To me, it is just a bunch of gibberish. The very idea of math makes me want to run away and crawl under a rock. Reading textbooks without inspiring explanation does not work for me.” Many schools have succeeded in making science boring.

So a new grassroots movement is born to add another dimension to STEM education. They lobby at schools to implement TEAMS, in which the ‘A’ stands for ARTS. TEAMS programs thus incorporate arts into science learning.

The thinking is simple: STEM and arts are two sides of the same coin. STEM represents the knowledge, tools and processes to invent the future, however, the arts are what make us human. They are inseparable.

After all ‘a well rounded student’ of the 21st century is above all CREATIVE, is able to put knowledge into action to solve real world problems and has the skills to construct, simulate and design new worlds of possibility.

In manufacturing education we need teachers who dare to ask What kind of world do you want to live in today and can you imagine and design it? In this the creative dimension and especially the FUN aspect is critical. Arts can be the transformational catalyst for innovation in technical education and economic development.

I see a CNC manufacturing specialist as both engineer and artist:

  • Both should have the curiosity, creativity, imagination and attention to detail.
  • Both observe, see patterns and construct meaning.
  • Both go from crude designs to finished products.

Think Steve Jobs meets Michaelangelo.  Think refined sculpture, highly detailed, highly thought-out pieces of fine art…created by man and machine. Artist Gene Felice commented, “CNC mills use robotic drill cutters to cut an object out of blocks of solid material like wood, metal or plastic. Artists like myself, are using it to develop new ideas and sculptural forms.

Without arts STEM is not creative.

Creativity makes a huge impact on students thinking and ideas, according to Dawn Renee Wilcox:

  • Students better remember science learning situations that contain multi-sensory, hands-on activities or experiments, which the arts can bring to STEM lessons.
  • The arts are useful for helping students make transitions and connections between STEM content real world events and challenges.
  • An artistic representation of ideas and solutions is a valuable way to make learning personal.
  • Arts can inspire students, to see things and to learn things in a different way.

An example (more than 30 others resources can be reviewed at oercommons.org):

A teacher asked his students to design a working model for an affordable and renewable way to grow food. The result – a vertical hydroponic garden attached to a fishpond, along with a sculpture – is beautiful and functional, incorporating green design and technology. The students created drawings and wrote about their designs and shared their ideas via videos, slideshows, sketches, commercials complete with advertising drama and student-created jingles and other artistic channels.

Changing STEM classes into TEAMS could allow students not only to see how science is important to aspects of everyday life, but it also allows them the opportunity for real-world application of science and math knowledge. Arts would represent an essential part of the process of inquiry: problem finding, problem solving, and communication.

Let’s start with TEAMS work, don’t you think?

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The European Metal Manufacturing Hotspots

Posted by Bert Maes on October 13, 2010


Like This!

During the past 8-10 years companies in metal processing (manufacturing articles on turning and milling machines, treatment and coating of metals, and mechanical engineering) have prospered. Between 2000 and 2006 the European Metalworking and Metal Articles (MMA) employment have grown 8%, whereas basic metals and electrical engineering saw diminishing people. Split in sub-sectors the metal processing industry saw an increase of 15% in employment opportunities (from 1,5 to 1,75 million).

So even though technology has advanced, it has not replaced people. Even today, in the midst of the economic recession, the prospects for growth in metal parts output over the next 16 months look very good. EU added value metal products seem to be in demand!

But the European historically strong knowledge base is eroding. Companies report skills shortage as having a major negative impact on the competitiveness of the sector. It threatens the attractiveness of the EU to MMA firms as a place to locate production and R&D.

More and more technological development has lead to automation of production and increasing need of a capable force of hands-on, practical engineers with knowledge and skills in technologies, processes, management, languages and teamwork, with a focus on critical thinking, problem solving and adaptability skills. These skills will be the foundation for economic growth and prosperity.

Despite these well-known trends, only a few regions in Europe is stimulating the relevant streams of education.

GERMANY: South Westphalia

Germany -first of all- is dominant in manufacturing. It is the single largest producer of MMA goods, generating 25% of all EU27 metal output and responsible for 20% (860,000) of employment in the EU MMA industry.

The manufacturing hotspot of Germany is located in the south-west part of Nordrhein-Westfalen. The 600 MMA enterprises (with 140,000 employees) are focused on steelwork fabrication, vessels, containers, steam-generating boilers, cars, cutlery, wire and springs.

The region depends heavily on its metal sector: 53,8% of the companies in the region with more than 20 employees belong to the MMA sector. 1/4th of the region’s employees work in metal products and mechanical engineering. Manufacturing is THE generation of the regional wealth and prosperity.

Besides investments in slim administration, efficiency of equipment via automated processes, and personnel productivity, the region has got a very strong skills base due to the high number of quality vocational schools and universities.

Authorities see vocational schools and training institutions as a central piece for maintaining the competitive position of South Westphalia, as they are the prime source of innovation and knowledge renewal for many SMEs.

To strengthen the educational investments, NEMAS has been developed: a platform of cooperation between machine building firms and with colleges, universities and research institutions. The network develops projects towards

  • improved skills in engineering, design and management
  • collaboration in R&D
  • spurring children’s interest in technical subjects, already from the kindergarten years (see video Miniphänomenta).

ITALY: Brescia

Italy is the second powerhouse of EU MMA manufacturing. With the Italian output of 19,7%, Germany and Italy create combined almost 50% of the metal output in Europe.

The Brescia region is a cluster of 6000 internationally connected MMA SMEs in iron and steel industry, pots and pans manufacturing, weapons, machine tools, cars and industrial vehicles. The sector focuses on R&D investments, networking, internationalization (close contact with Germany), IT technology and niche products to maintain and grow its importance in the world. Consequently two service centers have been created:

  • AQM offering competitivity-enhancing technical and organization solutions, as well as technical training.
  • CSMT specializing in training and technical services and applied research from universities to the Brescian industry.

FRANCE: Pays de la Loire

France generates 11% of the metalworking output in the EU, in 45,000 companies with 462,000 employees. From them, 4000 companies and 120,000 employees are located in the Pays de la Loire region for the food machinery, aviation, shipbuilding and automotive industries.

In 2005, 71 innovative clusters were created in the area, initiating R&D projects involving 10,000 researchers.  One of the clusters is called ECM2, founded by a.o. Airbus and Renault around composite and metallic subjects, in association with inter-regional networks and 14 engineering schools. Together they develop better composite materials and processes via capital expenditures, set up collaborative engineering and local training programs for highly skilled manpower and share knowledge in new business opportunities.

SPAIN: Basque country

Spain is responsible for 9% of the metal manufacturing output in the EU, as well as 9% of the employment (378,000). As such MMA firms are important employers in Spain, delivering essential products and parts to other industries. For 60%, the Basque industry supplies to multinationals and other large international companies in the sectors rail and shipbuilding, automotive, aeronautics, aerospace and moulds & dies.

The Basque region is highly successful due to its long and focused support from the government. After severe economic recessions, dedicated strategic clusters were formed in 1988. One of them is the Machine Tool cluster that built a strong network and trust between machine tool companies and related industries. Especially the fundamental commitment to innovation (5% of the turnover is reinvested in R&D ), joint work in technology, promotion and training and the broad range of products with embedded flexibility and adaptability, are in this region the key to competitiveness.

  • The Machine Tool Industrial Research Foundation (INVEMA) offers technological and management services and promotes inter-company collaboration programs.
  • INNOBASQUE is the Basque Innovation Agency, a non-profit association established to coordinate and promote innovation throughout the Basque Country and to encourage entrepreneurial spirit and creativity at all levels.
  • IHM², the Machine Tool Institute, is focused on MMA training courses, fundamental to the competitiveness of the Basque economy.

AUSTRIA: Vorarlberg

Austria is another key player in European manufacturing. Vorarlberg, in the western-most region of Austria, is in economic terms one of the best-performing regions of Western Europe, with flourishing textile, clothing, electronics, machinery and packaging sectors. The 100 MMA companies in the region (12500 employees) manage to survive with investments in skills education and quality towards profitability. The V.E.M. (Vorarlberger Elektro- und Metall Industrie) is established to increase collaboration between enterprises and educational establishments. Companies, for example, are sponsoring the schools in terms of technical equipment.

The Economic Chamber of Vorarlberg has taken several initiatives to promote interest in technical qualifications:

  • The “Schaffar”-day in which children from the 3rd and 4th grades are invited to visit local companies. In 2008, 1700 children participated.
  • The “up2work”-day, a similar initiative for 5th to 6th grades in the primary school. In 2009 a total of 1900 children visited 160 local companies for a day of work.
  • 7th to 8th graders are invited to visit the BIFO fair for advice on education and profession.
  • FITFrauen in technische Zukunftsberufe (Women in future technological professions) which every year invites girls from the 7th to 9th grades to visit companies and technical schools along with their teachers.

Such actions support the development of a highly skilled workforce able to deliver high-value products with a high degree of customization.

CONCLUSION:

The Metalworking and Metal Aricles (MMA) industry is present in virtually every corner of the EU. And for many countries manufacturing is critical for its economy and wealth. Some countries are notably known for their low labor costs. But often substandard innovation and skills are the result.

Educational programs in which students from an early age get exposed to manufacturing technologies in an entrepreneurial manner, therefore, are central to stimulating the competitiveness of the industry and create innovative companies.

Main source of information: 2009 Report Competitiveness of the EU Metalworking and Metal Articles Industries

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

SWOT analysis from the European Metalworking Manufacturing Sector

Posted by Bert Maes on October 7, 2010


Like This!

In November 2009 the European Commission published a clear and up-to-date report on the competitiveness of the EU Metalworking and Metal Articles sector. Below an overview of our manufacturing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

 

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Partnering with schools: one of the best investments in your country

Posted by Bert Maes on October 6, 2010


Like This!

Sometimes an Economic Recovery Advisory Board has got interesting things to say. Last Monday they talked about what President Obama called “one of our most important economic issues of our time:  the skills and education of our workforce, because every business leader in this room knows that the single most important predictor of America’s success in the 21st century is how well our workers can compete with workers all around the world.

WATCH VIDEO

All of our education institutions — from our pre-schools to our universities — have a critical role to play here,” the President said, but especially vocational and technical colleges “serve as a pool of talent from which businesses can draw trained, skilled workers.  Unfortunately, they receive far less funding than four-year colleges and universities. Not only is that not right — I think it’s not smart, not at a time when so many other nations are trying to out-educate us today so they can out-compete us tomorrow.

We need to be doing more, not less, to equip our workers with the skills and training they need in the 21st century.  It’s an economic imperative.”

We need to make “an unprecedented investment in our community colleges — upgrading them, modernizing them, and challenging these schools to pursue innovative, research-oriented approaches to educating.

A key strategy according to the Board is developing new ways for businesses and educational institutions to connect, work together and share knowledge about what practices work best. Specialists identified public-private partnerships as one of the most effective ways that we can improve the skills and credentials of workers and students.

Some of the best quotes from the 21-page meeting minutes:

  • Every state should have at least one strong partnership between a growing industry and a community college.
  • Schools and employers should create programs that match curricula in the classroom with the needs of the boardrooms.
  • Always maintain commitment to education, i.e. never cut back on education investments that are directly related to our long-term economic performance.  “Now is not the time to sacrifice our competitive edge in the global economy.  This country will be stronger if all of our children get a world-class education.
  • Companies must invest their skills, their expertise, their people and dollars to support and create a more high-impact partnership with schools.
  • We believe putting the resources into a real public-private partnership for training and development of workers is one of the best investments that we can make in our country.
  • Community colleges are usually incredibly flexible to work with companies on designing a two-year curriculum to meet the needs of a high-tech employer who says: ‘I’ve got a thousand folks that I’m willing to hire if they get the right training.
  • Caterpillar dealers have built partnerships with about 12 colleges that have a great curriculum to develop skilled service mechanics to do field service work.  And these skills are transferable to other industries. “Now we have four new plants being built in the United States and every one of those cities has community colleges partnering with us on the training that we need for the people coming into those facilities.  So I couldn’t be more positive about this program”.
  • We need to rebalance our economy in order to succeed globally, because if the United States is going to be a high-wage, high-performance, wealthy economy, the first thing we need to do is invest much more in education and lifelong learning.

AMEN

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to rebalance our economy.

Posted by Bert Maes on October 4, 2010


Like This!

The employment losses make it tempting to conclude that manufacturing no longer matters much. The economy is ruled by the financial sector, many say, not by the production and supply of goods that people actually use. But when the banks got out of control, they dragged the rest of us down. Avoiding that happening again in the future requires “rebalancing”, says John Pullin.

Historically, manufacturing used to mean success. Historically, our strength has been in practical trial-and-error tinkering manufacturing and engineering, Mark Roulo explains.

Rebalancing, therefore, basically means “reigniting a fundamental relationship with dirt, work, and the business of making things, as opposed to the business of buying them”.

In the past, the biggest part of government strategies and ‘Marshall’ plans didn’t turn our declining economy into an expanding successful economy. I think we don’t want to see that the most vibrant regions today just take our innovative ideas and just imitate them, but especially: improve them. This ‘import-replacing’ is what makes them earning money. We stay behind with importing stuff, importing more than we can afford, losing money, governments that have to loan, and in the end can’t pay for the interest anymore, bringing us close to bankruptcy. We fail to make and produce a wide, diverse, creative, versatile and small-batch range of things for ourselves.

I feel we need to create a many-sided society again. With our current overspecialized economy every slight change makes us increasingly fragile. As a result, many economists still have no clue what will happen, and many shoppers stay home in uncertainty.

We have to start creating industries of our own again. I believe one of the best ways is this: Stop promoting non-technical education at the expense of our economy, but instead offer each student a wide range of technical skills and experience. Lack of investment in cutting-edge technical education is a likely step to long-term economic failure. The best way to prepare today’s students for the modern workforce is to give priority to training that leads towards high wages and good benefits (one of the hallmarks of manufacturing) and to skills that offer real value in the import-replacing workplace and in their personal lives:

The high efficiency natural gas boilers come with computer controls and a 100 page manual. Damn, no-one should be ashamed to be the one who can come and make someone’s life better.” (from a post by Glenn Reynolds)

If not… we might be raising a generation of nincompoops

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Conversation Starter, Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Four strategies to unlock manufacturing innovation today

Posted by Bert Maes on September 14, 2010


Like This!

Both the U.S. and the EU will have difficulties to compete on large-scale manufacturing again, but it can still continue to unlock value in its capacity to innovate.

Instead of a forest dominated by a few large trees, it will be nurturing a garden with many small flowers”: crowdsourcing and web-based collaboration, virtual micro-factories, small batch businesses, high-mix/low-volume parts, cloud manufacturing, 3-D printing technology to revamp the hands-on production industry.

What would be needed to unleash our creativity? A competitive strategy for any country should have four tall tent poles, according to Andrea Belz, specialist in strategies that transform innovation into profits:

1. Fund research, education and innovation programs.

2. Educate for competitiveness: “We must aggressively train our students” with better and affordable equipment and better long-term support for teachers.

3. Tax incentives for small companies to purchase new technologies and other capital goods.

4. Retain foreign talent.

“The risk is not that large-scale manufacturing will leave us,” Andrea Belz says, but “this is the last chance to stop the innovation train from departing as well.”

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Strong Manufacturing = Healthier Financial Nation. A study from Belgium.

Posted by Bert Maes on September 8, 2010


Like This!

Over the past 40 years Belgium lost 17% of its manufacturing activities, a prominent Belgian economist finds, in collaboration with several entrepreneurial organizations (the presentation of the study – in Dutch). Only the United Kingdom is doing worse. The future of both countries in terms of competitiveness doesn’t look bright.

Change % Manufacturing Since 1970

Is deindustrialization/demanufacturing a normal natural process giving way to the services era? Not entirely, the study shows. Many countries still rely heavily on manufacturing. The simple logic is this: when a country loses its manufacturing base, the service sector gets fewer chances to grow.

The manufacturing sector has to be preserved, simply because the basic creative activities in the industry are a must to keep the rest of the economy going, according to the study. The financial crisis has revealed the weakness of our services economy. Loss of industry makes a country extra vulnerable. The country loses exports, loses income and has to rely on domestic demand that has to be stimulated by the government.

Maybe the most fascinating observation from the study is that the countries that enjoy a strong manufacturing base, have a healthier financial situation. There is not a chance that a country can get out of its recession and generate renewed wealth without substantial contribution from its manufacturing sector. Loss of manufacturing contributes to impoverishment.

The study states that Germany should be Belgium’s benchmark example with: lower labor costs, a more flexible labor market (less conflicts between employers and employees), less complex administration, a real export policy, attracting (foreign) top companies that have a urge to innovate and internationalize, focus on R&D support, more collaboration with the educational sector etcetera and the fact that the Germans unite behind the notion of manufacturing export. The government, business community and workers all see their future in global business and they work for a common purpose more often than not.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions, Statistics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

McKinsey: How to compete and grow: a guide to manufacturing priorities

Posted by Bert Maes on August 18, 2010


The McKinsey Global Institute has analyzed the performance of more than 20 countries and nearly 30 sectors, including the African continent, on what the best government manufacturing policies are to make those economies compete and grow during and after the current recession.

According to those studies, the best manufacturing policies first of all depend on two criteria

(1) Whether you live in a low-income, middle-income or high-income country;

(2) Whether you operate in an innovative start-up industry or in a mature sector.

(1.a.) The manufacturing situation in HIGH-INCOME economies
(in total 54 countries including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Austria, Belgium, Denmark,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland and the US):

  • Between 1995 and 2005 services generated ALL job growth in high-income countries, and between 75%-87% of the economic growth. Only 13-25% came from goods-producing industries. Between 1985 and 2005 manufacturing contributed 0,3% to growth, services accounted for 2,2%. The employment powerhouses and growth sources were retail trade, restaurants, construction and those services that bring process innovations. Some predict a substantial employment growth in IT &  telecom, private equity, construction and environmental services by 2014, as well as car & automotive manufacturing and mining, oil & gas machinery manufacturing.
  • These are of course statistics from 2005. Since then the situation changed drastically. The oversized financial industry did hurt the broader economy the past years. At this moment “making goods is — with exceptions — more productive than providing services, and rising productivity is the fundamental source of prosperity… a major nation must be able to maintain a balanced current and trade account over time, and goods are far more tradable than services. Without something to export, a nation will either become over-indebted or forced to reduce its standard of living,” says economist and author Jeff Madrick. Since there is no economy that would have sustained rapid growth without substantial contribution from its industrial sector, at this moment, increased growth depends on the performance of manufacturing! Today manufacturing is doing more to lead us out of the recession than any other industry.

(1.b.) Manufacturing situation in MID-INCOME countries
(In total 93 countries including Argentina, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Hungary, Jordan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Russia and Turkey)

  • 85% of net new jobs comes from service sectors, including utilities, broadband telecommunications, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants, finance and insurance, construction, IT and software activities, R&D, digital media etcetera.
  • But the manufacturing industry (including pharmaceuticals, radio-TV-communication equipment, motor vehicles, cloth and apparel, food, drinks, tobacco, oil, coal, basic material, agriculture and forestry) contributes 46% of all growth (Russia for example 39%, China 55%). So in these countries the performance of expanding industrial sectors is critical to the economy.

(1.c.) Manufacturing in LOW-INCOME countries (61 countries including the African continent, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Afghanistan, India and Nepal)

  • Educating has to be one of the highest priorities for public policy, to deliver the necessary trained business and scientific talent. Truly competing and winning in the long term will require local know-how and talent. Local capacity-building programs, attractive career paths, and apprenticeship opportunities will be critical to achieve sustained growth.
  • The other highest priorities include infrastructure development (transport, fuel, water, energy, port, airport, roads) and regulation, including a strong stable government, upholding the rule of law, creating a more predictable business environment. The current poor performance in these fields complicates the importation of equipment and materials, and makes the overall manufacturing costs very high.
  • Expanding manufacturing, however, increases exports and reduces the need the need for imports, easing these countries’ current-account deficits. So precisely manufacturing is essential to make continued investments in infrastructure and education.

(2.a.) Best government actions in MATURE manufacturing sectors

  • After being highly dynamic and generating growth to other sectors, the semiconductor industry today employs only 0.5% of the workforce. The last 15 years semiconductors didn’t generate sustained growth – public investments have led to very low returns.
  • There is a similar situation in the cleantech solar/wind power and biomass industry. The global markets in this area are already subject to heavy competition and as a result this market will not bring enormous job creation. The sector will remain too small to make a serious difference to economy-wide growth. New jobs in this green technology production is more likely to come from improving building insulation and replacing obsolete heating and cooling equipment.
  • Mature manufacturing markets best benefit from expanded infrastructure construction (roads, ports, high speed telecommunication, research labs, parks and training centers), improved access to capital, support in R&D through universities or other research funds, reduced trade protections, export assistance, faster and streamlined government regulations, enhanced access to raw materials and logistical effectiveness, focus on quality of education and technology-driven retraining to acquire a skilled workforce – at the right cost – that can continuously deliver new products for new generation of technology, in low-cost production.

(2.b.) Best government actions in INNOVATIVE START-UP industries

  • Protecting local producers has helped create local industries in a sector’s early development phase, but it led to low productivity and higher costs to consumers, with limited growth. Removing trade and investment barriers at the right time, with exposure to global competition, significantly improves performance and productivity.
  • Innovative high-quality ‘original technology’ industry start-ups should get government contracts, low-cost loans for investment, reduced raw materials/energy/logistics costs, long term large government investing in channeled R&D funding and expanding necessary education, support from private companies and university research to develop new technologies together, and attracting smaller companies to form clusters, which help create a sustainable pool of talent and expertise. But remember, this only works in brand-new industries.

Conclusion: designing and implementing manufacturing policies to improve growth and competitiveness are not easy. Taking into consideration the maturity of the country and the maturity of the industry will boost the odds of policy changes having a positive impact.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions, Statistics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Future of Modern Manufacturing Explained in 12 Tweets

Posted by Bert Maes on August 12, 2010


by Peter Zelinski ~ mmsonline.com

1. Technology is pushing in two directions—bigger and smaller. Manufacturers will continue to find fresh fields by meeting the demands for workpieces that are significantly different in scale from mid-sized parts with mid-sized tolerances. (see article: Going to Extremes)

2. The cost of manufacturing overseas is rising, but the cost of manufacturing in lower-cost areas of the U.S. is holding firm. The smart choice is proving to be not outsourcing internationally, but outsourcing from one U.S. region to another. Pennsylvania for example is less expensive than Chicago or Detroit. (also see article: “In tough times, many companies turn to outsourcing, yet that strategy may doom their products“)

3. As material prices increase the cost of stock, and as technologies such as 3D printing improve, manufacturers will increasingly employ additive part-making as an additional option alongside CNC machining(also read: “In the manufacturing industry of the future, sophisticated 3D automation and robots will play the key roles.”)

4. Even though manufacturing facilities have reduced their staff, demographics still predict an industry-challenging lack of technical and engineering talent. Young people are not entering manufacturing at a rate that is anywhere near fast enough to replace those who will retire.  (Check: US Report Skills Shortage and EU Report Skills Shortage)

5. On the other hand, population trends also bode well for U.S. manufacturers. A surge in new consumers is coming: the Millenials. This upcoming generation’s expectation of variety will favor short production runs. This in turn will favor an increased reliance on manufacturing in the United States.  (also view: beat offshoring by having a local ready stock and producing faster than firms with foreign factories.)

6. Manufacturing enterprises are much more diverse than what the government and media seem to be able to imagine. Much of our national conversation about manufacturing still focuses almost solely on “factory” production. (see article: The “factory” is one way we organize people and capital to produce real and useful things – but team of mechanically-minded people who come together is just enough)

7. The skills and other attributes needed in modern manufacturing are getting more difficult to define, particularly for small and lean facilities. The people who can best recognize these attributes are likely to be the ones who already have them. A manufacturer’s current employees are probably its best link to new employees. (find out: The 7 skills we should teach in technical education.)

8. Traditionally, the start-up shop was a job shop. Tomorrow, it might just as well be a captive shop. Cheaper, smaller and easier manufacturing equipment will produce a new sector: “basement manufacturing” of niche or custom products. (see articles: (1) machine tools used in non-shop locations and (2) the small batch movement, an example of the current Third Industrial Revolution in manufacturing)

9. Tool steel? Try tool aluminum. As product lives shrink, steel won’t automatically be the moldmaking material of choice. Increasingly, what was once called “soft” tooling will be seen as full production tooling.

10. Similar to what occurred in the aircraft industry some time ago, the medical device industry will be colonized by regulators. Processes will face new validation requirements, and the pace of innovation will slow. The requirements will also create barriers to competition, resulting in small and nimble manufacturers becoming large and established ones.

11. Any manufacturer today should look out across the production floor and ask: What would my process look like if it was more automated? Then ask: What steps can I take today to move in that direction? (also read: Automation protects the future of our economy’s manufacturing base.)

12. The United States is the world leader in terms of global manufacturing market share. U.S. manufacturing also has become significantly leaner, cleaner, more efficient and more responsive in just the last few years. To be sure, there are challenges. However, the idea that the United States is turning away from manufacturing is dramatically overstated. U.S. manufacturing will remain a leading economic force in the world for a long time to come.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

“Automation Education Is Ever More Critical”

Posted by Bert Maes on August 9, 2010


By Steve Dyer

As a new school year quickly approaches, it’s time for both students and educators to evaluate where the jobs are and where they will be in the years to come.

And it’s the job of us manufacturers to show them.

By 2018, the American manufacturing workforce is projected to decline by 9 percent, an estimated 1.2 million fewer workers, according to the United States Department of Labor. That leaves a lot of holes to fill.

American manufacturers can make up some of this gap by increasing efficiency, extending the trend of productivity gains we’ve been achieving over the last decade. Technological advancements continue to drive efficiency and output across the nation.

However, with our shrinking manufacturing workforce, the question remains: who will carry on this recent success, and that of the industry as a whole, into the future? To prepare, leaders in manufacturing must put significant effort toward the technical education of the next generation in association with regional schools.

Even now, with unemployment at 9.5 percent, manufacturers are having a difficult time finding and retaining qualified people. That’s why we’re taking action through forming partnerships with many schools in Southeastern Wisconsin from Milwaukee to Madison – and accessing an enormous pool of talent in the process.

One of our closest partners is Waukesha County Technical College. We’re working with them to help shape the curriculum toward real-world industry advancements, so that educators can better identify the skill sets that are important to employers and ensure they’re supporting them throughout their programs.

For example, as manufacturers struggle to meet increasing demands with a decreasing workforce, automation education is ever more crucial. The workforce of the future must be fluent in programming workspace automation to maintain production levels when even fewer workers are available.

Members of the Manufacturers Alliance are also working to change public perception about manufacturing careers by getting school administrators and guidance counselors into our facilities. We need to show them that factories aren’t the gloomy, mundane places they imagine, but instead are bright, automated hubs of innovation and technology.

If more manufacturers band together like this to support and promote technical education, we can change the image of manufacturing careers and, while doing so, continue to emphasize the importance of the science and math skills pertinent to the industry.

I encourage all manufacturers to get involved in your schools and dedicate resources toward education. You, your company, the industry and the future of the country will be better off for it.

Steve Dyer is the president and CEO of Dickten Masch Plastics

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Posted in Policy, Solutions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »